Just starting out, wanting to work local

I’ve just joined this site, full of answers and the amount of knowledge is amazing. Trying to soak it all in. I have a few questions.

A lot of these forums talk about the major airlines, for me I am wanting to stay local. Possibly work for fire, med evac, charter or local cargo. Would the qualifications be different since I’m not looking into major airlines? What would the pay range be for something small and local for what I listed? Obviously it varies but would my chances be higher on landing a local job within 5 years or so since everyone is trying to make it to the “big leagues”?

Thank you for taking the time on reading and answering my questions, I appreciate it greatly.


Great questions. Unfortunately there’s really no way of providing you with accurate numbers. You’re talking about a huge range of flying jobs and the pay and availability can vary dramatically depending on your location, which job, what equipment, etc etc etc. As far as qualifications go, most all of the jobs you list will require the same licenses and ratings as flying for an airline (Regional or Major) although some of the smaller local gigs may not have the same flight time requirements which is a plus. I recommend you start Googling jobs you think you’d like in your area and see what you come up with.



The qualifications are really the same no matter what type of flying job you end up with. However, some jobs (such as crop dusting) will require additional training. The pay is impossible to nail down as the jobs vary so much. I have to say though, that there are not a lot of local type jobs that pay very well as the money is at the airlines.

I feel like you need to reconsider your desire to stay local. Fire departments do not have airplanes, med-evacs fly all over the world as do charter companies, and there really is no such thing as a local cargo company. Pilots by definition travel, it is the nature of the profession. If you want to make your living as a pilot, you should prepare yourself to spend significant time on the road.


My two cents, there ARE local cargo companies, but they’re tiny. You can
find a few scattered around the US that fly Caravans, for example. If you
find one, that could provide you with the required turbine PIC time to fly
for a fire service company. As Chris stated, the fire department doesn’t
fly airplanes. They contract companies to assist them. The same turbine PIC
time could make you eligible for med evac too.

Any particular reason why you are leaning towards these types of jobs as
opposed to the airlines? Just curious. I’m sure you have your reasons. I
was initially attracted to those kinds of jobs, but my opinion changed. I’m
not trying to change yours. Like I said, just curious.


Thank you for the responses. I know the jobs are ranging in differences, I did google search and looked at a few jobs. I’m going to be in Arizona (Prescott area). I found a charter company that during fire season receives contracts as well.

I want to stay local or in the first response/medical side mainly because of my family and I work history. Father is a retired fire fighter, brother’s are currents fire fighters, and I’m prior Coast Guard. Fire fighting doesn’t interest me cause every fire fighter I know always has two jobs, I just want one GREAT one. I would love to stay local, fly for evac (if I leave for a few weeks on end than that’s fine) and during the fire season get contracted out. If that’s a possibility than that is my goal (Like Adam with Hawaiian Air). If the money maxes out at like 80k I would be happy. I’m not looking into becoming a rich pilot or making six figure income, if that happens though then that would be amazing!

I want to fly, assist others and just enjoy the air. Thank you for your guy’s input, I greatly appreciate it.

I think those are all good reasons. Thank you for sharing.



While those are all valid reasons, keep in mind that you are limiting yourself to an extremely small section of aviation. If for some reason that doesn’t work our, you will need to consider other options.


Thank you Tory.

Chris, very true… I will keep my options open if anything should happen to the route I am planning on taking. It will be an interesting path either way but hopefully in the end it will turn out how I hope for. Thank you.